There is an open letter to Kristen Lindsey on the DVM 360.com website from more than 100 American veterinarians. It was originally signed in full by the participants but there was a backlash on social media. Now the letter is signed off with the veterinarian’s initials to protect their identity.
The backlash no doubt came from animal advocates because the letter, in a backhanded way, supports Kristen Lindsey. Actually, it is not even backhanded. The letter simply supports this infamous veterinarian who most of us know killed a neighbour’s cat with a bow and arrow, the arrow going through the cat’s head and the veterinarian proudly declaring her prowess on Facebook, accompanying a picture. She was punished for this but insufficiently for animal advocates.
For me, there are a couple of interesting aspects to the letter which I would like to discuss here briefly. The letter is published on this page as an image.
The letter states:
“The veterinary community is wrestling with the ethical issues…of killing a cat using a method not listed in the AVMA guidelines…”
The way this sentence is formulated indicates that the writer is comparing the killing of this cat by Kristen Lindsey with the euthanasia of cats in clinics across America. To refer to AVMA guidelines is laughable but I don’t wish to be disrespectful. I feel that it is objectionable and silly. Lindsey’s killing of the cat had nothing to do with veterinary work (except that it tells us KL should not be a vet). It was the killing of a cat by a person who likes to hunt animals to kill them (by admission). To equate that with AVMA guidelines on euthanasia demonstrates muddled thinking. It also shows that these veterinarians are trying to defend Lindsey. There is no doubt in my mind that it was this sort of thinking and intention which irritated animal advocates.
Another interesting aspect of the letter is that they state that the profession’s suicide and mental illness rate is one of the highest in America and even the world. If that is true it makes me think, why?
Veterinarians should be a respected profession. They should be pillars of the community. They should be looked up to by their clients. They should be loved by their clients but apparently veterinarians are suicidal and therefore they must be unhappy. From my perspective (as an outsider) one thing that they can do to increase their happiness is to universally and with commitment serve their patients: usually cats and dogs and other pets.
I hate to discuss it but nearly every veterinarian in America declaws cats against their oath. This annoys a lot of people and it undermines the vets’ status. One thing that they can do to make themselves happy is to stop declawing cats. This would demonstrate a higher level of integrity: an admired quality.
The letter focuses exclusively on the well-being of the perpetrator of a crime: Kristen Lindsey. There is great concern for her mental health and well-being. There is apparently little or sympathy for the plight of the cat that she killed or the owner of the cat who has remained silent throughout this saga. I would have thought that veterinarians would have at least expressed some sympathy towards the cat in line with their profession’s aims.
Lastly, they state that veterinarians are fighting to maintain integrity in the public’s eye. Clearly, they believe that they can do more to improve their status in the community. They say that their clients believe that they lack integrity. Why should they believe this? It can only be because all too often they prioritise financial profit over their patient’s health and welfare. The solution is to make clear to the public, through their actions, behaviour and words, that the prime and sole aim is always the welfare of the animals that they treat. Amongst some veterinarians this will mean a change in attitude including stopping declawing cats and convenience euthanasia unless absolutely necessary and in compliance with their oath.
Veterinarians of course have a right to make a profit and to make a decent living because they have studied and trained very hard to do a difficult but rewarding job. However, that does not give them the right to over-vaccinate, create associations with pet food manufacturers to sell and promote dry cat food over all other products to the detriment, I would argue, of the cat’s health and engage in other behaviours which put people off going to their veterinarian because they’re unnecessarily expensive.